Before company comes, my mom always calls for “the ten-minute tidy”. This is a mental checklist that has been drilled into my head for years. There is a main trifecta of rooms you need to spiff up before surprise company comes over.
Let’s set the scene. You have been big chillin’ on the couch binging your new favorite series. Life is good and nothing can go wrong until… Your phone rings. You glance over. It’s your mother-in-law. Dread sets in. A cold sweat forms, running down your back. You answer. She’s on her way to deliver some unwanted gift you conveniently “forgot” during your last visit. The house is in shambles and your mother-in-law is a white glove test kind of gal.
It’s time to hit the ground running with the classic ten-minute tidy. You don’t have time to make the house look like nobody has ever lived there like you do during the holidays, but you do have time to make your house look presentable. Tie your hair up, send the kids outside (with a warning to not get dirty), and get ready to work fast.
The Living Room:
First things first, get organized. Throw stray toys in their place, sort out trash or anything that looks unorganized. Fluff the pillows and fold your throw blankets. This room has to look the most tasteful, so spend some time (but not too much time) making it look nice. If necessary, vacuuming the corners that collect the most dust and behind doors will help tremendously.
If you have time later, dust and light a candle for the optimum I-totally-have-my-life-together facade.
Don’t panic, this one is quick and easy. Clear the counter as much as possible, put stray sink dishes in the dishwasher for now and wipe everything down with a damp rag (or a hot soapy rag, if need be) and, if you need it, a countertop polisher.
Set out an appetizing little snack if you have one stashed away somewhere. If all else fails, decorate with a dainty vase or yet another candle so you can pretend you have all your ducks in a row (and feel expensive).
The bathroom requires the most work. Guess which one she will use if you have a half bath or guest/hallway bathroom then it’s time to tidy up. Dust mop the floors, clear and take a rag to the counters and replace your hand towels. Using an older used towel, wipe out and rinse your sinks, being sure to get any red rings off the drain. Finally, toss any other used towels in the laundry bin.
Next, it’s time to hit the toilet. With a disinfectant wipe, wipe down the top, handle, sides, and seat of the toilet. Clean out the bowl with your method of choice and make sure there are plenty of toilet paper, wipes, and air freshener readily available. Light another cozy candle to sit on the counter and make things look pretty.
Lastly, don’t forget to take out the trash when you’re finished. Getting rid of the evidence is the most important part of the ten-minute tidy, you know.
Everything is Everywhere and I’m Freaking Out:
In an emergency, grab a laundry basket and start filling it with loose items from the floor, tabletops, counters, etc. When it’s full, you’re going to stick that in the tub or shower and close the shower curtain. This is a power move on your part; if someone looks behind the curtain and sees your unholy pile of junk stashed in there, are they really going to out themselves as a snooper by accusing you of being a weirdo? No. No, they won’t. And if they do, act unbothered. Who cares? Certainly not you, who has the ultimate guide to tidying up in their pocket now.
If that isn’t going to work for you, it’s time to utilize the closet. Look, you did it as a kid, it’ll work as an adult. You pile that clothes basket high with junk and you proudly shove it into your closet and shut the door. If your guest opens it and is buried in an avalanche of your loose bits and ends, that’s on them, not on you!
In all honesty, cleaning is hard, especially when under a time crunch and if you have little ones running around. However, just getting whatever you can do before company arrives makes all the difference in your confidence and their perception of you.